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Indigenous Animal Species Grazed By Nomadic Gujjars Dying Out

June 1, 2009


Jammu (IANS): It is a classic case of the new edging out the old to extinction. Jammu and Kashmir’s traditional graziers, the nomadic Gujjars, rue the dying out of several indigenous species of goat and sheep after the introduction of foreign high-yielding breeds.

Gujjar woman

Javed Rahi, national secretary of the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, told IANS: “In the last 40 years the nomadic Gujjars have lost at least a dozen rare indigenous species of sheep, goat, horses and dogs – and many species are on the verge of extinction.”

He said the distinctive breeds of animals with the nomadic Gujjars, who have lived on rearing of cattle and sheep since time immemorial, “have gradually got lost since 1968 when the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) introduced certain foreign breeds to get more yield in terms of mutton and wool”.

Among the sheep species that have become extinct are Ghidord, Phamphri, Punchi, Bakerwali, Bani and Karnahi, while the goat species that have died out are Gurziya, Belori, Lamdi and Goodri. According to the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, goat species like Kaghani, Lubdi and Kilan are on the verge of extinction.

Among horses, indigenous species like the Yarkandi, Nukra and Bharssi have become extinct while the Jaskardi and Kaliani are disappearing.

The biggest loss for these Gujjars is the near extinction of various breeds of shepherd dogs. Zafar Khatana, a Gujjar community leader now in the Daksum area of south Kashmir, told IANS over telephone, “Our herds used to be safe because of our shepherd dogs. They are very ferocious dogs and would not allow any movement around.”


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